Evanston is one of 29 local governments participating in a project called the STAR Community Pilot Program to track municipal sustainability efforts.

The STAR Community rating system is a voluntary, self-reporting framework for evaluating, quantifying and improving the livability and sustainability of U.S. communities.

Organizers say it features a framework for sustainability that includes social, economic and environmental qualities of a community; a rating system that drives continuous improvement and fosters competition; and an online system that gathers, organizes, analyzes and presents information needed to meet sustainability goals.

The STAR Community Rating System was developed through a multi-year, consensus-based process led by committee members.

Technical advisory committees of experts from across the country determined scientifically valid, cost-effective ways of evaluating local government progress. A steering committee provided oversight and guidance.

The result, backers say, is a robust and comprehensive system that is flexible enough to serve both large and small towns – and their local leaders – as they begin their journey toward sustainability.

The City of Evanston has been working on sustainability efforts based on the Evanston Climate Action Plan, adopted in 2008 in a collaborative community process with more than 150 volunteers and city staff participating.

“Our efforts have helped Evanston to become the ‘Green City’ it has set out to be, but we still have a lot more to accomplish,” Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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